Thursday, February 24, 2005

Renaming the Convention Center

It has to be odd being Mayor Street right now. No matter where you stand on the corruption trial, you have to wonder what its like trying to govern through this whole thing.

Anyway, yesterday, Street hinted at how he was going to pay for the arts budget he proposed a while back: Sell naming rights to the Convention Center. He says the City can get between 3 and 5 million dollars a year from such a deal.

From the Inquirer:
Street's naming-rights proposal was news to Gov. Rendell. Spokeswoman Kate Philips yesterday said the governor "supports innovative ways to fund arts and cultural programs, but has not seen a proposal."

But the idea drew a cold response from City Councilman Michael Nutter, board chairman of the Convention Center, which is awaiting funds to undergo a $632 million expansion.

"Research indicates there are no major convention centers in America that have corporate names," said Nutter, who attended the chamber event.

That said, some convention centers have sold naming rights. Cincinnati sold the naming rights to its convention center for $9 million, for 30 years, to the local gas and electric company.

And in Houston, Reliant Energy paid $300 million to own the naming rights for 30 years for what is now known as Reliant Park, a five-building complex that includes the Houston Texans new football stadium, the Astrodome, an arena, exposition center and convention center.


But one consultant, Jeff Knapple, who has worked on more than 20 major naming-rights deals, said he thinks the benefits are slim where convention centers are concerned. Even though tens of thousands of people may traipse through a convention center, "What's overlooked is the exposure from television: They don't have the media coverage a hockey game or a baseball game has, and so the value of the agreement is less," he said.

I guess if the City can actually get that much, why not? We sell the rights to everything else. (Coming soon: The Frank's Bail Bonds City Hall!) But, I sincerely doubt they get that much for it. Because really, who cares what a convention center is named? Why in the world would a company pay that much?


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